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Publication Date : 04-10-2012
If K-pop group BigBang were to make a Korean drama series, they would base it on their own lives. As group member Tae Yang, 24, puts it, in English that passes muster: "Each and every day of our lives is so unique, it would be a good drama. However, there's a chance it might have to be X-rated."
He is only half-joking, at a press conference that preceded their two sell-out concerts at the Singapore Indoor Stadium recently. After all, the group - currently on their first world-wide BigBang Alive Galaxy Tour - are no strangers to sexy scandal.
Just recently, photographs of what looked like group member Seung Ri, asleep in bed, were published in a Japanese tabloid. They were accompanied by a kiss-and-tell account by a woman who allegedly spent the night with the 22-year-old singer. The group's label, YG Entertainment, has not commented on the scandal.
Still, nothing seems to be able to make a dent in BigBang's popularity.
One of K-pop's biggest acts, the group was voted Best Worldwide Act at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards, over nominees such as Jay Chou and Britney Spears.
Tickets for all shows so far on the group's world tour, which kicked off in Seoul in March, have sold out faster than concert producer/promoter Live Nation expected.
Managing director of Live Nation Korea Cho Yong Bae told Life!: "BigBang are similar to Lady Gaga when it comes to the speed at which tickets to their concerts sell out. We said, give them a month for tickets to sell out. In most places, they sold out in an hour. They are stars on a global level."
Singapore is the first stop in the Southeast Asian leg of the tour, which has taken them to Japan and China, and will span cities as far as Los Angeles, New Jersey, Lima and London. The tour's creative director is well-known choreographer Laurieann Gibson, who also spearheaded Lady Gaga's The Monster Ball Tour.
The band's popularity stems from how they write and produce their own music - an edgy mix of hip-hop, electro pop and R&B. Having a daring fashion sense and super slick music videos do not hurt either.
Four songs ("Fantastic Baby", "Blue", "Bad Boy" and "Monster") from their sixth and latest mini album Alive have made it to YouTube's list of most viewed K-pop videos so far this year.
Three songs from "Alive" also came in the top three of Billboard's Korea K-pop Hot 100 chart. And the album itself made it to the US Billboard 200. Only two other K-pop groups have achieved this - Wonder Girls and TaeTiSeo, a sub-unit of Girls' Generation.
Even local showbiz veterans can hardly contain their rapture over the five BigBang boys - leader G-Dragon (real name Kwon Ji Yong), 24; T.O.P (Choi Seung Hyun), 25; Dae Sung (Kang Dae Sung), 23; Tae Yang (Dong Young Bae) and Seung Ri (Lee Seung Hyun).
At the press conference, star-struck actress Ann Kok, who sat with the media, spent close to five minutes declaring her love for the band in Korean and English.
When the MediaCorp actress, 39, asked if she could appear in their next music video, T.O.P remarked that the women who appear in BigBang videos have to appear very sexy. Would Kok be comfortable with that?
She replied, "Well, the Singaporean knows", perhaps alluding to how local viewers are familiar with her penchant for flaunting her assets. Tae Yang told her: "Then give him your number."
Kok later told Life! that she passed Tae Yang her e-mail address when she went onstage to take a photo with the group.
Public flirting aside, the group were not taking any chances with resident bad boy Seung Ri during the media session held at Stellar at 1-Altitude.
He stayed silent throughout the 45 minute-long press meet, looking a little sullen at times. Usually the most talkative member and the group's unofficial spokesman at interviews, he left his bandmates to field questions from around 50 members of the media and fans.
With their sunglasses on from start to finish, G-Dragon and T.O.P were mostly expressionless, breaking occasionally into smiles or laughter when it was their turn to speak.
They playfully took photos of one another with the Samsung Galaxy phones placed in front of them, Samsung being the main presenter of their tour. It is organised here by Launch Entertainment and Lushington Entertainments.
They have visited Singapore twice. In 2010, they performed at the Korean Pop Night Concert at the Singapore Expo and at the Korean Music Wave group concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last July. G-Dragon, T.O.P and Seung Ri returned in September the same year to perform at the 2011 Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix at the Padang.
The chatty and animated Tae Yang, sporting cornrows and his signature bandana, talked about how he had heard from G-Dragon that chilli crab tasted good, but was not sure if he dared to try it.
On the adoration that they have received from fans, G-Dragon said: "We're grateful and honoured. The love from fans really motivates us and we're really appreciative of the love we get from everyone around the world."
He added: "It's been less than a year since we embarked on this world tour but we've continued to learn more about ourselves and our relationships with one another. We're all growing in terms of music and as human beings."
Meanwhile, singer-actor T.O.P wore his hand in a sling under his jacket - triggering off concern in a million adoring hearts.
Having injured it on the set of his latest movie, the spy thriller Alumni, he said: "My condition is not normal. But I know fans in Singapore are looking forward to our performance here. I have a commitment to do each performance. That's why even though I have this trouble, I still came all the way."